That Which Does Not Kill Us, Makes Us Stronger

arnie-920x584[1]A quote attributed to the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche.  It was also used in the movie “Conan The Barbarian” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, released May 14, 1982.  In the movie, Conan’s family is killed when he is a child.  He grows up, training to be a warrior so he can then ultimately avenge his family.

Sometimes the best revenge is just setting yourself free from those who have harmed you, but ultimately it is to become stronger from the experience.

I was recently discussing a situation that had happened a number of years ago.  It had to do with extremely disrespectful behavior from a distant family member.  In short, their behavior towards me was to snub and ignore me at every possible opportunity.  At the time, I wasn’t really in the emotional space to blatantly tell her to “f*ck off”, although she really deserved that.  I harbored the resentment and suffered through it.  Time passed and I have since been able to tell my story, have the situations acknowledged and gained defense on my behalf.  Her punishment, if you will, has been to lose favor and attention.  Something that pisses her off more than anything.  I refuse to have any contact with her, and she is not allowed in my home, and this is respected by my sweetie.  We can’t cut her off completely, due to the complicated family dynamics, but she doesn’t get her Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving either.

I never did anything to deserve this treatment, which is acknowledged and defended by my sweetie.  If anything, I was kind and thoughtful of her from the very beginning, even when she acted anything but.  She’s rude and mean and that’s that.  And yes, I’m still pretty pissed at her for her actions.

What I have come to realize is that I can be thankful for the way she acted.  Because of her, I am stronger.  The various encounters taught me that I do not have to be someone’s stomping ground.  My feelings, my very self are important and I MATTER.  I don’t get to be beat up by anyone any more.  I picked up the sword of Conan to avenge myself.  A sword doesn’t need to be used to hack someone’s head off.  I sword says “I am protecting myself.  I am strong and powerful, but I am a peaceful warrior until I am harmed.  Then you will suffer my wrath.”  (Again, without the severing of heads, although that can be done metaphorically.)  

Even though we are spiritual beings, it is important to remember some truths.  Looking for the good in everyone does not mean you should be blind to their faults or allow them to misuse your kindness.  Some people are just inherently mean and you don’t have to suffer them.  Protecting yourself and being assertive is a spiritual practice.  Saying No to peoples’ demands and bad behavior is honoring yourself.  If you don’t honor yourself first, you cannot honor someone else.  You cannot fix people.  When you stand your ground, people will learn to respect you even if they don’t like you.

And, whatever doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger.

Just Roll Over

directory-466935_1920Have you ever heard the term “dark night of the soul”?  It’s really the same as hitting the bottom of your life; a desperate, depressing time when you just want to sink down in the sh*tpile and call it good.  Ick.  What a horrible thought, but I bet many of you have been there.  I know I have.  A time, or three.

You just lay there, face down in your sh*t, and wonder why and how you got that way.  Maybe you want to stay there.  Maybe you want to get out of it.

Did you know that all you have to do is roll over?  Yes, really.  If you roll over, you look up towards the light and the way out.

Most people who hit the bottom are just ready to give up.  Death is certainly a way out, but why would you want to do that when there are other possibilities?  Instead think: Surrender.  When you surrender, you give up control.  So if you roll over, look up at the light and surrender to the Universe, you flip on the light to something brighter and better.  The Universe will get you out of the sh*tpile if you give up control.  If you pay attention, the Universe will put ideas in your tired little brain that you can use to improve your life.  The Universe will send people and resources to help you move forward.  But you have to be open to it.

The biggest miracles occur when you have a dark night of the soul.  Things you never, ever dreamed would happen show up at the right time making you wonder why you ever thought things were so bad.  But you know something?  You don’t have to wait until you are at the bottom of the well to get miracles.  You can get them anytime you want.  Yes, really.  The Universe is on-call 24/7.  To you.  To anyone.  No limits.  No running out of data.

All you have to do is roll over and surrender.

For What It’s Worth

vw-camper-336606_1920“There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down”

Buffalo Springfield, Atco Records, December 23, 1966

The 1960s were a time of great happenings and much turbulence.  Not much different than what we are experiencing in today’s times.  During the 60s, we witnessed these events:

The Vietnam War
John F. Kennedy elected president and assassinated
The Cold War
Bay of Pigs
Cuban Missile Crisis
Senator Robert Kennedy assassinated
Richard Nixon elected president and later impeached
The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr
The Charles Manson cult murders
The violence at the Altamont Free Concert
Protests, protests and more protests
And yet,

We put a man on the Moon
Johnson establishes Medicare
The Beatles invade American music
The rise of the Hippie culture
The Summer of Love
The Woodstock Festival
Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech; wins Nobel Prize
Civil Rights Act
Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress
The birth of the birth control pill
The first airing of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”
Daylight Savings Time enacted

So much crazy and so much good.  Think of the fabulous music that came out of this turbulence and the impact it still has on us today.  No to mention all the other major events.

It is difficult not to freak out when life is just downright nuts.  We fear for our safety and survival.  We fear for our children.  We fear for our health.  We fear for our money and our property.

We fear for our very lives.

But when we fear, we let the Dark take over and bring even more things to fear.  During these times, we must go deep within our soul and promise to care for our self.  We must draw upon our inner well of courage and determination.  We must look to Spirit and ask that the Universe bring about peace.  We must continually give gratitude for all the good we have, because it is only when we are grateful do we bring more into our lives to be grateful for.

“There’s something happening here”, and it’s drawing everyone together, making the commitment to build a better, more peaceful life for all.  For those of us who have lived through the 60s, we know things get better.

And for all those on Veterans Day, thank you for your service.

November-r-r

Fall has dug in and is flirting with Winter.  The mountains are getting snow, which makes all the skiers and outdoor people delirious.  I prefer the “apres-ski” version, where you sit in front of a fire in a cute outfit and fuzzy boots and drink warm, alcoholic beverages. Oh and I can’t forget, dip a hunk of bread in warm, melty cheese.  Yum.

Fondue pots aside, the weather is slowly shifting to chill.  When I take my daily walk, I wonder why I haven’t uncovered my selection of faux fur coats.  Maybe I just haven’t forgiven summer for leaving.  When I get home from work, I want to crawl into bed instead of sitting outside in the sun.  ‘Tis the season.

Cooler temps make us want to hibernate, or at least cocoon inside.  There is definitely a biologic aspect to this, but also a spiritual one.  As we move inward, it is the time to turn inward and take a view of this season of your life.

Have you let go of people and things that no longer serve your greatest good?  Have you set goals and intentions, if so, what progress have you made?

Winter is the time when we look into our soul and envision new things.  We take action steps in the Spring to plant the seeds.  Summer, our plans grow and mature and blossom.  And Fall is where we look back and harvest our dreams.  Did they bring us all we asked for?  Did we allow them to grow beyond our imagination?

Or did you let your field of dreams lie fallow?  Like reclaiming farmland, letting your dream field regenerate can be healthy, especially if you have been overly productive with your dreams.  Maybe Fall is the time when you sit back, sip your peppermint hot chocolate, and thank yourself for all the work you have done to make your life better.

Don’t forget the fondue.

You Gotta Have Faith

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Photo: Pixabay – Jills

A great song by George Michaels, who looked hot in the video, but not the subject of this post.  Faith could be that one friend who always sticks by you no matter what and knows all your little secrets and silliness.  The kind of friend everyone should have.  But the faith I am referring to is what lies deep within your heart.  The knowingness that all will be taken care of in the best possible way.

Faith says that no matter what sh*tstorm is blowing through your life, you will get through it and there will be a bright light on the other side.  Faith is knowing that the Universe has your back and will deliver what is best for you.

Faith is accepting that the Universe really does know what is best for you, even it if might not what you would like.  Maybe that romantic partner that you would like to be a permanent partner, but doesn’t work out.  You wanted them because they were decent, fun and responsible.  You thought you had found The One.  When they left you adrift, you couldn’t understand why the Universe took them away.  Take another look and search your heart.  Was there something about them that you didn’t really like, but chose to overlook?  Maybe they drank too much, or spent money like water.  You thought you could handle that.  Remember, the Universe has your back.  Do you really think that person would have exited your life if they weren’t the very best for you? 

Have Faith, because someone better is on the way to you.

It’s the same thing with any other thing in your life that is difficult.  The Universe will find a way to get it out of your life if it isn’t in your highest good.  That crappy job.  The friend who always mooches.  Cramped living conditions.  If you let go and have faith, something better will show up in your life.

Now, you can fight every step of the way.  You can stay in any of those situations, but they will get worse until you wonder why you are putting up with the sh*t.  Let it GO.  When you release the kung-fu grip you have on a something bad you open yourself up to better possibilities.  Listen to your heart and take the steps to make a change.  Allow yourself to roll through the uncertainty and turmoil of the change, and the Universe will steer you to a better path.

You just gotta have a little Faith.

Un-Masked

man-1461448_1280Happy Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Day of the Dead and whatever else you might celebrate on this magical evening.

October 31st has long been known as the time when the “veil” to the unseen is lifted.  In other words, the opportunity to be more psychic.  For those of you non-believers, consider it the time your inner bullsh*t detector is activated.  However, since the time of December 21, 2012, the veil has been getting ever thinner.

The un-masking is taking place.
Awful people can’t hide anymore.  They’ve held their tongue for too long and now the dirt is rolling out.  They can’t hold back and their actions are giving away their inner demons.  The world is their stage and they are acting out.

It’s a very volatile and scary time here on Planet Earth.  Battle stations, ready, from our surrounding planets.  No wonder they keep going retrograde, anything to stay out of the line of fire.

Take heart, while all the sh*tty people are alive and stirring up trouble, the really good people are also coming out of hiding.  That shy, sweet server at your local restaurant.  The neighbor across the street who watches out for your home while you are away.  A coworker you shied away from because they were very reserved.  These kind people are also pulling off their masks and standing up for others.

Light always overcomes the dark.

It will be a battle for a while yet.  More fighting, more awful news, more everything.  But for each and everyone of them, comes another who will stand up and demand what is right.

Because the Light always overcomes the dark.

Star Stuck

art-dawn-daylight-194040Does it seem like everyone has just gone bonkers lately?  Mean, back-biting or just plain snotty?  It’s not you, it’s them.  But it’s not you either.

Those pesky planets are making dizzy circles amongst the stars again.

Venus, the planet of love and relationships, has been in retrograde.  Yes, that-oh-so-sensuous, snuggle-on-the-sofa, planet of swoon has been giving relationships the cold shoulder.  If you have been fighting with your sweetie, your bestie, or maybe just everyone you meet, take heart because Venus is forcing us to take stock of our interpersonal relationships.

But hold onto your socks, or at least your box of tissues, because just when it should get better it is about to get worse.  Venus will stop being all pissy-pants and move direct on November 16th.  Yay!  Just wait, our other little friend who loves to create chaos, none other than Mercury, will go retrograde on the same day.

Mercury, the ruler of all things tech, communication, travel and legal will be giggling with glee as he turns his back on the sky and stays there until December 6th.

What. The. F*ck.

I guess there is a bright side to this.  Just when you are about to press Send on the nasty, go-F*ck-yourself text, your phone seizes and dies.  Or you are about to send your resignation letter to your boss, along with your list of the thousands of ways you hope the company dies, your computer goes into the blue screen of death taking all your files with it.

So while you are standing in line at the phone store, you’ll have plenty of time to re-think those messages.

You see, retrograde is the time to turn inward and re-think, reevaluate, review, remind and any other re-word that causes you to pause for a different purpose.

Maybe that relationship wasn’t so bad after all.  You might be pushing yourself too hard and biting someone’s head off just because you are tired.  Or maybe it really is time to call it quits, because you just can’t deal with their drinking problem.

Maybe you are taking on too much at your workplace, trying to make up for inadequacies in your team.  It might be time to step up and tell them to handle their own responsibilities.  Or maybe you need to polish your resume, because playing office politics that wreak havoc with your value system of integrity and correctness are causing you an overload of stress.

So while these planets are vying for dominion in the sky, hunker down in your nest and look within for answers.  Seek help from Spirit for the best direction and action steps to take.

Or maybe just make a wish upon a star.

Mega-Madness

lottery-146318_1280Are you the lucky person holding the billion dollar lottery ticket?  If so, your life is about to change in ways you might not have imagined when you decide to use your car payment to buy tickets.  At least that will be paid off.  Or will you just trade it in for a top-of-the-line Maybach?  Probably for one for every day of the week.

I’m not so certain winning that amount of money is such a good idea.  Maybe the home that you love and have lived in for a long time will have to go.  Unscrupulous people will camp out on your lawn.  You might have to hire security to guard your home and follow you around.  Your spouse might leave you, taking half the money (not that they aren’t entitled).  Maybe the happiness that you have been experiencing in your life will suddenly turn into worry and fear.  If the government can’t manage a billion dollars, how can you?

Some people are good at managing money; I hope you are one of them.

A billion dollars can make a difference in many lives.  South Carolina was recently affected by the hurricanes and is in the process of recovering and rebuilding.  Maybe the winner will provide some community support, not saying that they should give away all or any of their winnings.  But what do you really do with that much money?  Many banks have an insurance cap of $250,000.  Think of how many bank accounts you would need to shelter those dollars, and the corresponding number of passwords you would have to remember.  I can barely remember the few I have.  It’s still hurricane season, so that trip to the Cayman Islands might have to wait.

I wish you well, whoever or whoevers you are.

Me, I don’t play the big lotteries.  Too much responsibility and disruption.  Winning the lottery for me would be to lessen my responsibilities so I play the smaller state version.  Then I can pay off my house and be able to pay people for services that make my life easier.  I just want the freedom to determine what my day is like, and not be on someone else’s time clock.  To  have fun and enjoy life.  To create and follow my passions.  That doesn’t take a mega amount of money.

Maybe just some minor-madness.

True Grit

Whether you prefer the original, 1969 film version with John Wayne and Kim Darby or the exceptionally well-done remake with Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges, the message is the same: having true grit.

What is True Grit?

The simplest of the definition is firmness of mind and unyielding courage.  Some people would call this stubborn or hard-headed.  Well, yes, but what is so terrible about that?

If something you are doing or want to do is important to you, and it is not illegal, immoral or unethical, then you should stand your ground and pursue it.

The character in the film, young Mattie Ross, was determined to avenge her father’s death and obtain what was stolen from her family.  Nothing illegal, immoral or unethical about that.  Well, maybe the fact that she was carrying a gun might have made it illegal, depending on the use, but certainly necessary for a young woman who planned this trek.

Mattie’s single-minded intent carried her through the film, no matter renegade lawmen, high water, creatures or outlaws.  She stood her ground even when she was told that she was too young, too small, and well, female.  Her courage and unrelenting determination won her the respect of the two men she was partnered with on her quest.

Most everyone needs a good dose of true grit.  When you do something appropriately, in service, and with integrity and someone attacks you (not necessarily physically), then you need to stand your ground and defend yourself.  No one has the right to demean you or make you feel less than who you are.  No one has the right to silence you or invalidate your values.  No one has the right to push you into doing something that crosses your value system.  Defend yourself, even if it means putting yourself on center stage.  You matter.  Your values matter.  Your integrity matters.  No one can take that from you, but they will learn to respect you.

If center stage is scary for you, call upon your inner Rooster Cogburn and let fly with “fill your fists, you son-of-a-b*tch!”  I can almost guarantee that they will back down.

Me Who?

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I hesitated to write this article for fear that it would come across as a political and/or hate-filled rant, so I decided to address it from my own experience.

 

I, too, am a victim of sexual molestation.

 

The first time was when I was 13, and the second at age 16.  Both times were perpetrated by a family member (not the same one).  The first event was more profound and many of the details are as clear in my mind today as they were at 13.  Do the math, I’m 58 now.  Trauma imprints details indelibly on the brain.  Why do you think it is called Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder?

I don’t remember all the details, just specific ones.  I don’t remember the exact day or time.  It was a hot, sunny summer afternoon.  I specifically remember the where, the who, the jeans I was wearing and exactly what occurred.  And I remember the secondary event that followed the next day.  I remember feeling that I was mature enough (at 13?!) to handle the situation and that I could stop it.  Some bizarre part of my brain felt sophisticated.  I even remember asking the perp if he had done this to his younger sisters.  Yes, really.  I don’t remember his answer, nor do I really want to speculate.  I’m not the judge of that.

The emotional whirlwind that came after has followed me to this day, even as I write these words.  Initially, there was a mind-numbing sickness due to some books he showed me of perverted acts.  Shame, fear and even guilt that I had somehow caused this.  Ridiculous as I was 13 and he was an adult.  Now I know that as Person in a Position of Trust and could have put him in jail.  I couldn’t tell anyone; my family life wasn’t very supportive.  At some point, I mentioned it to my grandmother without really telling her anything and her reaction was something like “I don’t want to hear this.”  So I lived with the shame and fear until sometime in my forties, when I decided that I needed to make changes in my life.

Sexual molestation creates life-long damage.  My sexuality suffered.  I experienced difficult relationships with men that played out from deviant behavior to smothering.  When I finally acknowledged my pain and did the healing work, I was able to enter into a relationship with a man who helped me find my sexuality in a normal, natural and loving way.  My sweetie is a good man.

There are hundreds of thousands of women AND men like me, who are ashamed and afraid to speak out.  Many have and I hope many more will.  Imagine the global healing, and hopefully change this will create.  The trauma will always be with you, but doing the healing and therapy work brings acceptance within.  You must do the grieving.  You must forgive yourself for being in the situation and not being able to do anything about it.  Shame is very much about self-hatred; you didn’t take care of yourself.  Only then can you put the trauma in a neutral place.

Why do people perpetrate sexual molestation on others?  I don’t know.  There are plenty of theories.  Family conditioning, societal pressure, having been a victim and on and on.  How about “because I LIKE it”?  There are mean and predatory people in this world, who are not necessarily socio- or psychopaths.  When they are confronted, they deny or throw a tantrum like a spoiled child who got their toy taken away.  It takes an enormous amount of self-will not to get outrageously angry when I see antics like this.  The urge is strong to want to give them a swat on the a$$ like a tantrum-throwing child deserves.

However, I do believe in karma.

I was probably in my thirties when I heard through the family grapevine that the perp had an industrial accident.  Something hit him in the groin hard enough to blow out a testicle.  Feeling vindicated, I gave thanks that day and I really think that was what started me down the road to healing.

Karma can be a real bitch when she’s been wronged.  Allow her to help you heal.